ELGIN, Texas (KXAN) — The city of Elgin will break ground Monday on a brand new police station as the department gets ready to expand its staff to match the rapid growth of the city.
This will be the city’s first police-designated building in its history. The new police headquarters will replace the century-old building the department is currently occupying.
Time for an upgrade
The current Elgin police headquarters is located right on Depot Street in the city’s historic downtown district, and the building is really historic.
Police Chief Chris Noble said the building served many purposes in its 102-year history. It was a feed store and Noble believes it also was used by the Elgin Courier, the local newspaper in town.
“It’s not a police station,” Noble said with a smile and a chuckle.
The building ran into some serious problems during the winter freeze in 2021 that affected so many in Central Texas. Noble said the walls started leaking water and holes started to appear in the side of the building. He said asbestos was covered under the carpet we walked on.
Even the wallpaper in the bathroom was from a different century. Noble is betting its from the 70s.
But the biggest problem the station has is space. The staff is constantly playing musical chairs to make room for new people or to avoid renovations to the decaying building. Three detectives are sharing a room right now, with makeshift walls set up to provide some type of privacy.
It’s not just the employees who do not have space, but also the massive amounts of evidence the department collects in its day-to-day operations.
The station placed two storage containers in the backside of the station to hold evidence. One of the storage containers is climate-controlled to make sure the evidence is not affected, but this can still spell problems.
“It’s hard to track all those items and make sure you know where they are when they’re in different facilities,” Aaron Crim, the commander of criminal investigations for the department, explained.
Keeping up with a growing city
Elgin, which sits on U.S. 290, is right on the outskirts of Austin, and is a popular stopping destination for people traveling between the state’s capital and Houston. But now it’s becoming a place to find affordable housing as more people moving into Central Texas look for a place to live.
City officials expect the 10,000-person population to grow by 8,000 people in the next couple of years.
“Now, not only do we have a population growth of residents who live here, we also have a population of people who connect and visit our town,” Cmdr. Crim explained.
There are 32 people on staff at the police department, and Noble said he needs to double that number in the next five years to keep up with providing public safety to the growing community.
He said he is having trouble hiring people when he does not have enough space in his current headquarters.
“If you’re going to hire someone, where are you going to put them,” Noble questioned.
The new station, designed to be 11,000 square-feet, will provide the department enough room for new hires, evidence, and the ability for the community to go in and engage with the department.
“By having the space and thus the tools that we need in order to effectively serve our community,” Noble said, excited about his new station.
How much will this cost?
Right now Noble said the cost of the station will be around $5 million. It will be built right behind the hold station along Depot Street.
A news release from the city said a mixture of certificates of obligation bond money and American Rescue Plan Act funds will pay for the construction.
It is expected to be done in 11 months.